From independent bloggers to large businesses, everyone has a website today. It is because an online presence is a powerful tool that can attract the audience towards your business. You can either build a website by yourself or outsource it to a web development service. Once your website is ready, you need to select a web hosting provider.
What is a web host?
You require a way to publish your website online so that it shows up in search results. A web hosting provider helps you do it. You have to pay a recurring fee to your provider. In return, you get a domain name and space for your web pages. It is how you take your website online. There are hundreds of providers out there. One must carefully select one’s provider to suit one’s needs.
Why is it necessary to select a good web host?
There are different categories in web hosting. In each category, there are numerous providers. If you end up choosing the one that isn’t compatible with your needs, your business/website will not make a mark. Also, all enterprises, big or small, are moving to the digital space to get the attention of the targeted audience. It is not possible without a web hosting provider.
What are the factors to consider?
You can choose the right web host for your needs based on some factors. The factors are discussed below.
What are your needs?
Be specific about your needs. You can select a host only if you are clear about your requirements. What category does your website fall into? If it is a blog, there are a set of reliable hosts for that same. If yours is an e-commerce website, there are some hosts specially meant for such sites. Ask yourself/your team these questions to best understand your needs.
- Is your website built on WordPress or an HTML one?
- What is your maximum budget? If you decide on that, you can eliminate hosts that are outside your affordability.
- Are you looking for any extra features like email hosting?
- Do you have any special technical requirements for your site?
- Do you want to create multiple sites? In this case, you must choose a host through which you can create many sites from a single account.
Bandwidth refers to the data transfer rate between a website and devices that access the website. Web hosting providers offer different bandwidth plans. If your website is for a small enterprise, you may not need more bandwidth. On the other hand, if your website is for a large business and attracts heavy traffic, you may have to go for a larger bandwidth plan. Here is a simple analogy to understand the relation between bandwidth and traffic. The bandwidth is like the lanes of a highway while the traffic is like the vehicles on the highway. As the number of vehicles increase, you will need more lanes to accommodate them.
To take your website online, you need a unique domain name and space to store your website data. Therefore, a web host will charge you for the service. A web hosting service offers different subscription plans. The cheapest plans have only basic features. As the price increases, you get better features. Make sure to read all the details on your contract. Some hosting providers offer unbelievably low subscription prices for the first year and raise the rate henceforth. Be aware of how much the provider the charging you. If you want advanced features, it is wiser to draft a Service Level Agreement (SLA) so that you have it in writing.
You may be a start-up or a small scale enterprise. Thus, a simple static website will suffice. However, as your business grows, so will the traffic to your website. Then, you will have to update your website to reflect the scale of your business. In some cases, you may have uniform traffic throughout the year. But during a particular season, the traffic may shoot up. For the situations mentioned above, you need a web host that enables scaling up and down according to your requirements. Scaling is an advanced feature. Thus, you may not find it in all providers.
Cybersecurity is a crucial factor. Attacks to websites are not uncommon in the digital world. As a start-up/small-scale business, you cannot afford to fend off attacks on your own. When you choose a web hosting service, look for the measures they adopt to ensure security against attacks. Active security protocols must be in place. Some hosts provide backup services so that even if your website comes under attack, your data is safe. You can negotiate your expectations and security features in the Security Level Agreement.
Quality customer support
Customer service can make or break your online experience. As a layman with no technical knowledge, you will need assistance at different times. Web hosting services offer support through various means – phone, email and live chat. It is best to choose a provider who offers round-the-clock assistance. If you select one that assists only during business hours, you cannot expect your issues to be resolved immediately. A guaranteed way to understand a provider’s customer support is to read the reviews/testimonials from past clients. You will know how knowledgeable the customer service personnel are and the average waiting time.
There are several hacks to speed up your website. However, all of them will be of no use if your hosting company has a slow server. Any company that has an uptime of less than 99 per cent is not good for your website. If you have less traffic to your website, speed may not matter to you now. But as you upgrade your website, you will know the importance of high speed. You do not want your customers to leave your website due to speed issues. Good speed not only increases your customers, but it can also help retain customers. People are more likely to revisit websites with higher speeds and uptime.
The types of hosting
There are two ways in which you can host a website – shared and virtual private server hosting. It is up to you to decide the kind of hosting that you want. There are some differences between shared hosting and virtual private server hosting.
As the name suggests, the provider hosts your website on a server that you share with many other websites. All the server’s resources – RAM, processor and disk space are shared among the websites on the server. It is an affordable option. It is suitable only for websites that have less traffic. If your website has high traffic, it is better to go for virtual private server hosting.
Virtual private server hosting
Here too, your website is placed with other websites on the server, but the provider offers an isolated environment. It means that you have a dedicated RAM, disk space and processing power. Due to this, it is more expensive.
You do not need much technical knowledge to choose a web hosting service that best suits your requirements. Feel free to make use of the above factors to compare various providers and then make your final decision.